Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Homeentertainment‘Bachelorette’ Stars Gabby Windey, Rachel Recchia on Finale Frustrations, “Devastating” Blackface Photo...

‘Bachelorette’ Stars Gabby Windey, Rachel Recchia on Finale Frustrations, “Devastating” Blackface Photo and Franchise Diversity Concerns

Another season of ABC’s venerable The Bachelorette is in the books, and this one was just about as unpredictable as they come, including an unprecedented format change, a shocking cheating scandal and no shortage of off-camera controversies.

After their shared heartbreak as two of the final three women on Clayton Echard’s season of The Bachelor that finished airing in March, Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey were universally embraced by fans upon the announcement that the pair would get a second chance at televised romance as co-leads of The Bachelorette’s 19th season.

Despite dual engagements in Mexico, with Recchia accepting Tino Franco’s marriage proposal and Windey saying yes after Erich Schwer popped the question, viewers were in for a roller coaster of a two-part finale. The three-hour final installment that aired Tuesday showed Recchia ending things with Franco after a heated conversation over him admitting to having kissed another woman; then, runner-up Aven Jones made a surprise appearance to escort her off the stage in a show of support after she had previously ended their relationship following his concerns about proposing too soon.

“I definitely just have made so many mistakes this season, and people do have the right to watch this and say what they’re thinking,” Recchia tells The Hollywood Reporter about criticism she received for some of her decisions. “Of course, there are so many comments that just should never leave people’s minds, but it does come with the territory. Ultimately, I think I have gained clarity into myself.”

The Bachelorette Courtesy of Craig Sjodin/ABC

Meanwhile, Windey and Schwer are continuing to work on their relationship, but she refers to the situation surrounding the blackface photo — which the show did not address on the air — as “devastating” and says there’s no excuse for his behavior. “It’s a chance for us to really reflect on our actions and grow from there and realize how our implicit biases like still affect others. As a couple, we have lots of learning and growing to do.”

Throughout the joint interview, Recchia and Windey addressed all of the lingering mysteries from the finale (who was Franco calling from the yard?!), in addition to discussing criticism regarding The Bachelor’s continued lack of diverse leads following the selection of Zach Shallcross, concerns about the show’s vetting process, the much-debated off-camera conversations that Recchia had with both Franco and Shallcross, whether Recchia would participate in another show in the franchise and why both Bachelorettes have problems with how some fans reacted to Franco’s actions.

Rachel, was there anything you didn’t get to say to Tino at the finale or that you wish could have been handled differently?

RACHEL RECCHIA In regards to my conversation with Tino, I really wished it would have went a different way. But ultimately, I really just do wish him well and hope for the best for him. Honestly, I wish we could have had more of that sort of a discussion, but I can’t really regret, looking back. It just played the way it did.

Have you talked to him since the on-air conversation?

RECCHIA No, I have not. Ultimately, I wish him well, but I think we’re both probably ready to move on after all of this and heal.

It was so tough to watch your post-proposal conversation with Tino about his infidelity. Was it up to you to decide to have the conversation in front of the cameras?

RECCHIA Ultimately, we are filming a show, and when big things like this happen, the show does have to know these things, and we do have a responsibility with the audience as well for them to be on the same page. So to be able to have Gabby there with me and have the support of everyone going through such a hard thing — I mean, it’s just the nature of the show and the fact that the audience does have to be kept up to date with some things that are happening.

The Bachelorette Courtesy of Craig Sjodin/ABC

Did you find out who he was on the phone with outside?

RECCHIA We still don’t know that. I feel like there’s a lot of…

GABBY WINDEY Conspiracy theories!

RECCHIA Things I don’t know. Yeah. I don’t know if we’ll ever get answers to everything. We just have to accept what happened and move on, really.

During that conversation, there was mention of off-camera conversations and whether or not you two would discuss that publicly. Are you happy with the editing choices and the decisions about what was aired?

RECCHIA There is so much that goes into a conversation like that, and there’s a lot that goes into a relationship off-camera. There are things that are appropriate to discuss on-camera, and there are deeply personal things that are between a couple, and it is disappointing to have certain things aired out to the public where now there might be a little bit of question of integrity or what the conversation was. And that is just really unfortunate on his part that there’s even that question because I think there are just some things that shouldn’t be brought up when you are in a relationship with someone, regardless of cheating or anything like that.

Were you surprised to see Aven show up, and what were your feelings about him being there?

RECCHIA I was definitely very, very shocked to see Aven show up. He’s definitely been someone that always has been so supportive and a safe place for me during the show. So to see him after a really hard conversation was definitely really, really nice.

What was that conversation like? Does he seem interested in seeing where things could go, or is it in the past at this point?

RECCHIA He did express to me that he wanted to be there and be supportive in a moment that he knew was going to be super difficult for me. Where it goes in the future, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Gabby, with Erich discussing his texts to another woman, how were you able to process the implication that he was just doing the show to further his career?

WINDEY Absolutely, it was hard to hear and see, and he was honest about it. We had even talked about it before — not specifically the texts, but why he came on the show. I don’t think people really come with expectations. Him straight-out saying he’s coming for a business opportunity obviously isn’t the best thing to hear. But that was before the show, that was before we met, and now we’re in a completely different place, and he has no business opportunities.

The Bachelorette Courtesy of Craig Sjodin/ABC

The Bachelor franchise has continued to deal with stuff coming back from participants’ pasts, including racial insensitivities. Regarding Erich’s blackface photo, is that something that you thought that maybe the show should have addressed on air, just for transparency? Or what was your take on that?

WINDEY Unfortunately, I don’t have a say with that. It was devastating, just in general, and I haven’t been able to speak on it publicly because we just came out as engaged. But he did put up an apology, and there’s no excuse for his behavior. I think it’s a chance for us to really reflect on our actions and grow from there and realize how our implicit biases like still affect others. As a couple, we have lots of learning and growing to do.

Do you think there are changes that the show can make to the vetting process for its cast?

WINDEY We could always try and improve on everything — vetting and casting. But you can’t predict a lot of these things. Erich’s picture that surfaced wasn’t via social media. It was from a yearbook, which is in print. So it would have been hard to prevent anyway.

Given the track record as far as some of the recent couples on the show, do you have a timeline in mind for where things go in terms of moving in together?

WINDEY They’re individual, of course. Him and I are both in L.A., so we’re not long-distance, which I think is the hardest part about being in a relationship. So we’re just going to see when our lease ends and stuff, where we’re at. But we do talk about the future.

With Zach announced as the next Bachelor, this will be the second consecutive season of that show in which fans have lamented that there could be more diverse leads selected. [Editor’s note: The Bachelor has had one Black lead, Matt James, in its 27-season run.] Do you think the show is doing enough to encourage diversity?

RECCHIA I think we can always improve on that — that’s not even a question. I would love to see more of it going forward, absolutely. That’s definitely something that, hopefully, they consider, and I know they will. They are trying.

Did you have conversations with Zach about him becoming the Bachelor, in terms of either suggestions or encouragement?

RECCHIA I haven’t had a conversation with him him, but I truly think he is a great pick for The Bachelor, just from what I know of him, and I think he’s going to do a really great job. Gabby and I are both supporting him as lead. We know it’s a really difficult position to be in but can definitely be so worth it if you follow your heart.

Rachel, you in particular had really intense relationships with two of the guys. Do you now have more of a sense of what Clayton was going through on his season, or has this changed how you feel about your experience with Clayton’s season?

RECCHIA I think it’s completely different. Multiple leads, if not every single lead, has had people in the end, especially two people, that they have very, very strong feelings for. It wasn’t the fact that Clayton had very strong feelings for three of us. It was the intent behind it and the way he delivered things to Gabby and I, and the group break-up and that rose ceremony. So it is completely different. Of course, we can empathize a little bit now, looking back, knowing that you can develop multiple connections. But I think there is just such a difference in the way that that was handled and the way we handled things — not saying that I was perfect. I know Clayton has apologized, but yeah, it’s a little bit different.

This season, there was discussion about some guys, including Aven, not feeling ready to propose and your hurt reactions to this. Looking back, should the show have a different expectation with proposals, or were you more thinking that the guys’ reluctance to propose reflected a lack of commitment?

WINDEY Coming in, you know the premise of the show is to be engaged at the end. I know that everyone has a different story with how their season ended, but at least for me, I was in a place in my life where I was ready to take that step, and I was ready to be engaged, and that’s why I decided to participate on the show. So I expected someone to match my expectations. Half the battle in dating is that you don’t know if someone’s ready to commit to you. It’s not just an engagement. It’s really a symbol to show that you are at a point in your life and yourself where you’re ready to commit to another person fully. So that’s what engagement means to me, and that’s why I wanted it. I think our dating culture is changing, but I feel like that’s what makes the show, the show.

If the show decides to go with co-leads again, is there anything that you both would want to see them change in this format?

WINDEY It’s not really up to us, unfortunately, but Rachel and I always say it’s just nice that we had our friendship to rely on the whole time, and we always put each other first. What we got out of the journey by doing that is invaluable.

RECCHIA We always say this when asked the question: They would have to have two leads that truly put their friendship above all, which is what Gabby and I did the entire time. And which is the big reason why, even after everything, I’m still not walking out of this with nothing. I have her with me. So it is something that is so valuable to both of us and we know could be successful in the future, if people had the same support we do for each other.

As far as your relationship with the franchise, have you thought about appearing on future shows?

RECCHIA I don’t know. Ask me in a couple years! (Laughs.)

WINDEY You might need a break.

RECCHIA Yeah, definitely need a break.

As far as the Zach conversation in the fantasy suite, is there any further clarity to be had about what you two discussed off-camera?

RECCHIA I think that’s just another one of those things, along with the question you asked previously — there are things that you talk about in fantasy suites that are things that aren’t discussed on camera. Even just regardless of conversation, Zach and I both realized once we got behind closed doors that we just didn’t align on certain things. That chemistry we might have thought was there, wasn’t. There were just a couple of things that all came really tumbling down, but ultimately there are just conversations that are private, and that is our opportunity to have them.

People were clearly disgusted by Tino’s actions, but there’s also been some discussion about whether it was right for the audience to boo him. How did you react to the way the audience responded to your conversation?

RECCHIA Obviously, Gabby and I do not condone any behavior of bullying. There is a difference between being supportive of me and still realizing that he is a human who also makes mistakes. That’s just the difficult thing when someone does see something so shocking; it is so easy to want to get on the defense about that. Obviously, Gabby and I would never want anything like that to happen if it was in our control.

How have you felt about social media reactions to your journey?

RECCHIA I definitely just have made so many mistakes this season, and people do have the right to watch this and say what they’re thinking. That’s just coming with the territory of putting your life on display for all of the world to see. Of course, there are so many comments that just should never leave people’s minds, but it does come with the territory. Ultimately, I think I have gained clarity into myself. It’s hard to be criticized, but sometimes you have to learn from certain mistakes.

Are you ready to date yet, and have you started to think about that?

RECCHIA Of course, I really do believe in love. It’s going to come along when it’s right. I have been definitely healing the past month, month and a half — however long it’s been — and continue to want to heal and work on myself so I can be the best partner I can be to whoever I date next.

Interview edited for length and clarity.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Featured NEWS